TITLE: Piecing Me Together
AUTHOR: Renée Watson
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
PUBLISHED DATE: February 14, 2017
I enjoyed this book. It's message driven, but the message is timely and much needed. Jade is a scholarship student at a prestigious private school in Portland. She is an artist who takes things other people throw away and makes them beautiful. Inspired by current events, and the experiences of York, the slave who traveled with Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition, her artwork is her outlet and form of self care.
Jade's story is telling in many ways. Watson's message of embracing oneself aims to strip away the stigma of inner city black women, and does so in ways I appreciate greatly. We see Jade's mother as hard working - and Jade's teachers, mentor, and society see Jade's mother as negligent. Jade sees her mother as loving, and doing the best she can to both provide, watch over her daughter, and trust the school and mentorship program to fill in where she is time strapped and financially unable. When Jade's mentor, Maxine, begins making plans without Jade's mother's knowledge, Jade's mother speaks up and lets her know this is unacceptable. I saw a lot of my teenaged self in Jade. Thoughtful and introspective, yet being so afraid to speak up. By the end of the book, one conversation from Jade's mentor makes Jade magically able to speak up for herself.
Jade is deeply affected by a police brutality case of a teen in a nearby community who is the same age as she is. The teen is hospitalized due to her encounter with a police officer over a small infraction. Watson does a great job of showing the inner turmoil of the protagonist, similar to what young women may be thinking or feeling in today's climate. This incident leads to a heated discussion with Sam, Jade's white friend, who sees the situation differently. Watson faces difficult topics of race head on. Themes in this book touch on classism within the black community, discussing racial incidents across the color lines, mentorship - both good and bad, and opportunities for low income students - who gets what.
Also, I appreciated that this was not a romance driven YA! And this too is a message. Jade mentions that mentoring programs seem to overwhelmingly focus on telling girls that they should be wary of boys - but boys aren't a problem for Jade. She would like for the mentoring programs to focus more on teaching about maintaining a budget and opening a business. I was really feeling Jade as a protagonist!
The story does end happily - almost too happily, but a happy ending does not a flaw make! Overall this is a great read that encourages us all to do better, and I for one, am taking note--the Jade's of the world are watching.
**Recieved Netgalley eBook ARC
Recommendation: Read it!
Audience: Young Adults and up
*I recieved this ARC from Netgalley.
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